Stanford EE Computer Systems Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, Feb 11, 2009
HP Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B01

Voting Machines & Audits
It Ain't how your Grandparents Voted

Barbara Simons
IBM Research (retired)
About the talk:

Almost $4 billion in federal dollars, provided by the 2002 Help America Vote Act, resulted in the initial widespread purchase of computerized voting systems. Many states – having been reassured that paperless touch screen voting systems (Direct Recording Electronic or DRE) were completely secure, accurate, and easy for people with disabilities to use – spent the money on DREs. However, independent security studies that uncovered serious problems with DREs, together with some well publicized failures, caused a number of states to replace their DREs with paper based optical scan systems. But paper ballots or records alone do not provide adequate protection against software bugs or malicious code in computerized systems used to count votes; random manual audits are needed as checks. Research on how to most effectively audit these systems is ongoing.

I'll give an overview of the types of voting systems being deployed, some of the problems with these systems, and various efforts to improve the security, reliability, accessibility, and usability of the systems.


There is no downloadable version of the slides for this talk available at this time.

About the speaker:

Barbara Simons is on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the Board of Directors of She was a member of the workshop, convened at the request of President Clinton, that produced a report on Internet Voting in 2001. She also co-authored the report that led to the cancellation of Department of Defense’s Internet voting project (SERVE) because of security concerns. Simons, a former ACM President, co-chaired the ACM study of statewide databases of registered voters, and she co-authored the League of Women Voters report on election auditing. She is co-authoring a book on voting machines with Doug Jones. Simons is retired from IBM Research.

Contact information:

Barbara Simons